[-empyre-] Systems and Scores

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sat Mar 16 06:12:14 EST 2013

dear all

thanks for the replies, and Paolo probably will forgive further excursions into rehearsals ( from point of view of theatre or choreography, in relation to a politics of (games)design, particularly since I am not a Boalologist (?) and have never worked with those techniques myself, so I just began to read into them some ideas that, for me, have to do with social choreographies, action (not game action), but also ideologies of design practices, issues of and in education, and also the role of what you refer to as indie or counter design.  And i think we all agree that art doesn't change reality too much. Now Norah brings up the question of "score" - 

[Norah Zuniga-Shaw schreibt"]
Delighted to have the conversation going on this month as I try to sort out my own relationship to gaming via my practice as a dance improvisation artist and collaborator on many computer graphics projects. Johannes, I wonder what your opinion is of the relationship between improvisation scores (especially those that are tight structures that create system-like results, I'm thinking of Nina Martin's "One Idea Scores" and such) and the concept of gaming?
Thanks! Norah

and there would be much to say, i think, given the current emphasis in (dance) research on "score" and "scoring" , both regarding choreographic practices, working methods, collaborations and articulations (publishing dance i.e. laying open the grammar and organizational methods these choreographers use in composing and realizing work, sort of an open source choreographic movement that also launches these new and varied publications in print and online (like your "Synchronous Objects project, Norah, with William Forsythe, and then there is Forsythe's new "Motion Bank" under way), but also regarding the ambivalence we might read into score (as we also use the term in music) as notation or notational system / design vis à vis open systems that drive improvisatory play or energies & exchange  (and changing/shifting constellations when dance or performance happens in real time with various augmenting technologies, changing the "architectural space" as Andrea Bozic and Julia Willms think of their dance-scapes when they work through cameras, shifting POVs, sampling and re-projecting/deconstructing elements and dimensions of a movement narrative.......     

I think task-oriented dance (but also Forsythe I suppose, given his interest in mathematics / computation)  since the 1960s Judson Dance Theatre collective, was interested in a kind of algorithmic organization of movement, and Trisha Brown and Lucinda Childs and others may have also thought of these algorithms as a tight structure -   and I always used to think of games needing rules or they would not be enjouyable and meaningful games and would not even function when you have teams or soloists play against each other. (I still think so, especially after seeing Xavier Le Roy try to hack into the rule system and devise a plan for a performance ["Project", 2004]* where two teams are playing a mixture of games against each other, four different games i think, and the players are encouraged to mash up the rules or change the particular game "direction" spontaneously at will.

This latter example is of course interesting from the point of view of "rehearsals" of rebellion where you allow the participant (not the designer) to be an actor-changer, an agent of a collective or part-communal process of intuitively proposing/enacting "rules" or bending the Beckham curve ball so that others can enjoy accepting and playing along or re-modifying,  This as a choreographic principle of alternate organization i would love to discuss, please tell us how Nina Martin does it, and I will write further on score.  (the journal issue i am working on, contributing to a new issue of International Journal of Performance and Media Art, edited by Scott deLahunta/Sarah Whatley, is dedicated to documentations and scores, and the artists in it have built a section called " 77 Choreographic Proposals: documentation of the evolving mobilization of the term choreography."

It's the mobilization or deconstruction of the systemic that interests us here, and in theatre (and engineering), i would think there are numerous fascinating parallels or developments that could interest those of you working primarily in games and games design.  I will try to write something tomorrow on the score for "Open Score," the incredible piece that Robert Rauschenberg devised with Billy Klüber for the 1966  "9 Evenings of Theatre and Engineering,' at the Armory in New York, and his core choreography (planned), was a tennis game, whilst his intermission play (also planned but improvised, with hundreds of extras invited in from the street) was a social choreography with political undertones which I find remarkable, and Goran Sergej Pristas, of BADco. in Zagreb, a few weeks ago gave a very provocative reading, an ideological critique, of that event and the infrared cameras they used for filing the "masses" in the dark and rendering them ghostly visible, on that tennis court in that theatre of engineering........which I might try to reconstruct for you. 

It seems at least to me that a discussion of game design might benefit from such historical/artistic experiments as much as from looking also into certain kinds of ethnographic or films / psychogeographies (just saw Patrick Keiller's "Robinson in Ruins" a few days ago and it haunts me still).


Johannes Biringer

see my “Dance and Not Dance,” Performing Arts Journal 80 (2005), 10-27.

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